Today’s young authors are fortunate to have more stimulating topics and writing formats than the stilted five-paragraph essay. When her Enriched Language Arts class at The Lane School learned how to write a review of a product they’d purchased from a fictitious catalog, Emma Bauschard let her imagination and creativity take her to the Winners Circle of Reading Rockets and AdLit.org.
The Exquisite Prompt is a series of monthly writing challenges designed as a classroom activity for students in grades K–12. The writing prompts are inspired by the 18 authors and illustrators participating in the Exquisite Corpse Adventure, the hugely popular serial story that launched in September 2009 and is sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance.
Emma’s class submitted their reviews in the December 2011 contest in which one winner and two honorable mentions were selected from the entire nation. Emma’s imaginative review of a magical object purchased from “The Fairy Tale Catalog” won honorable mention. She also weaves in the Civil War as a backdrop and teaches a lesson—all in less than 400 words. Quite impressive.
Hinsdale Living sat down with the young author for an exclusive interview.
Hinsdale Living: What is your writing process?
Emma Bauschard: First I lay down in my bed and close my eyes. Then, I picture how the story will go in my mind. Lastly, I write down all the details.
HL: Why did you choose the Small Stone from “The Fairy Tale Catalog” to write about?
EB: I chose the stone because of the convincing “voice” the author used. It made me want to buy it, so I thought it would be a wonderful start for my story.
HL: What made you think of incorporating the Civil War into your piece?
EB: I came up with the Civil War idea from books I read in the past. I thought it might make it interesting.
HL: Your story seems to accomplish a second objective, in addition to the writing prompt requirement. Did you intend to add a moral to your review?
EB: My message is “Don’t wish for too much!” Or, as you can tell from my story, things can really go wrong. You might end up disappointed.
HL: How does it feel to place in a national writing contest and to be a published author at such a young age?
EB: It feels amazing that I actually won a national writing contest! I haven’t decided if I want to be a writer or not, but I know that I will always love to read and write.
HL: Who is your favorite author?
EB: I like many authors, but two of my favorites are J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan. I like these authors because they write creative and magical stories.
Hinsdale Living congratulates Emma on her accomplishment!
Read here winning story here: Magic Small Stone
—Words by Elaine Doremus Slayton